Early Winter Ramble

Venturing into the great outdoors throughout Chicagoland. More that just fishing - hiking, biking, nature trails, nature centers, geocaching, sights to see, etc., etc.

Early Winter Ramble

Postby Rambler » Nov Thu 14, 2019 8:46 am

On Tuesday I took advantage of my day off from granddaddy daycare and the absolutely beautiful, crystalline weather for a hike at Deer Grove. I'd forgotten how much I like that place since it's not on my list of fishing destinations. Doesn't take a lot of wondering to figure out why this was the first property the CCFPD purchased a hundred years ago. The rocky soil and deep ravines made it valueless for farming. It's the lodestar of the CCFPD. The Palos complex is bigger but for my money Deer Grove is more beautiful and more importantly - quiet.

When I reached the trailhead at 9:30 my car said the temp was 13. There was a good 2 - 3" of snow on the ground and the sky was the shade of blue we only see this time of year. Happy to say I was dressed appropriately. Duofold long sleeve undershirt, Pendelton shirt, Eddie Bauer wool sweater & down jacket on top, silk sock liners, heavy wool socks, LL Bean polypro longies, German army surplus wool pants below. My trusty, old Milo mountain boots and a balaclava finished things off. I bought the Milos back in '77 to replace some Vasques I wore out at the Grand Canyon. Even after all these years they look almost new. And waterproof even though they don't have any high tech stuff like Gore Tex. Kept my feet warm and dry.

Hiked west along a bridle path taking side trips into the deep woods to take pictures. After a while I realized that unlike years ago when I hiked here regularly (used to have an office in Barrington) there was little, if any air traffic passing over. Must be due to the rearrangement of the runways at O'Hare. More the better. I came around a bend in the trail to spot a big buck. Got a couple shots before he skedaddled.

Finally found the side trail to my favorite spot. Climbed down into a deep gully, crossed a stream and up onto the bench above. This has always reminded me of some of the back areas of the Porkies - beautiful little streams running between hillsides in the deep woods. Except this is the only place I know where native pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia) grow. Might be the only place they grow in all of Cook County. But they're asleep under the snow now.

Strangely I ran into another hiker. He asked, "Are you as lost back in here as I am?" I said, "No - can't say I'm lost since I've been here plenty of times before but I'll admit to being a bit confused - it's been a long time."

He asked how to get back to where he'd parked & I told him. On he went. I sat down on the collapsible stool I bought for fishing and ate lunch. While I was sitting there I heard a woodpecker pecking at something (what else do woodpeckers do?). Looked up and almost directly overhead a hairy was digging away at a hornets nest eating frozen hornets (the woodpecker version of frozen snickers). Got my camera out for a shot but it flew away. Took one of what he left behind.

After a while I got moving again. Made my way along the creek through a woodland where the floor is carpeted with early meadow rue (Thalictrum dioicum) and false rue anemone (Enemion biternatum) in the spring. But again, asleep until the warmth returns.

When I got back to my car 3 hours later the temp was a balmy 21. Have to admit I was a bit bushed but happy I took the hike. There's really nothing quite like the peace and quiet of the woods in winter.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Bassin' Ted » Nov Thu 14, 2019 9:07 am

Nice buck!

I was considering going out on Monday for a walk since this is rut season but I looked at that wind and thought "hell no."
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Phil6 » Nov Thu 14, 2019 11:06 am

Rambler wrote: Looked up and almost directly overhead a hairy was digging away at a hornets nest eating frozen hornets (the woodpecker version of frozen snickers). Got my camera out for a shot but it flew away. Took one of what he left behind.


Had no idea that woodpeckers do this, makes sense. Very cool to learn.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Aux Pleins » Nov Thu 14, 2019 12:29 pm

The run down of your outfit was very red-carpet of you. :wink:

I hate winter in November. I'm only happy with it in late December and January.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Rambler » Nov Thu 14, 2019 2:31 pm

Aux Pleins wrote:The run down of your outfit was very red-carpet of you. :wink:

I hate winter in November. I'm only happy with it in late December and January.


Good one Aux. At least I wasn't wearing any Dior. :lol:

I'd prefer the cold to hold off for another month but we have to take what comes and enjoy it.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby bobberwatcher » Nov Thu 14, 2019 9:52 pm

Hey Rambler- you make winter sound almost pleasant. Do you really know the scientific names of those plants off the top of your head? Nice read.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Rambler » Nov Fri 15, 2019 6:33 pm

bobberwatcher wrote:Hey Rambler- you make winter sound almost pleasant. Do you really know the scientific names of those plants off the top of your head? Nice read.

1st - Winter is pleasant as long as you go prepared. Actually it's the reason I went into detail on my attire. You never know - some newbie lurker might be thinking about it.
2nd - some I do, some I don't and some I used to but can't remember anymore. (There are more & more of the latter as I age). Downloaded an app to help jog the memory.
3rd - thanks. Glad you liked it.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Busse Jim » Nov Fri 15, 2019 10:11 pm

Really liked your post!
It brought back some cool memories. :) Tobogganed there as a kid in the 70s and even checked it out for fishing around 2000 just after the closed the toboggan slides.
Waste of time.

Rambler wrote: Looked up and almost directly overhead a hairy was digging away at a hornets nest eating frozen hornets (the woodpecker version of frozen snickers). Got my camera out for a shot but it flew away. Took one of what he left behind.


I had seen a hornet nest like that a few years ago, but couldn’t figure out why I could see so much of the honey comb. Now I know, thanks.:thumbup: Woodpeckers, who'd have thunk

Thanks for the ramblings!

Here is an old pict of the original entrance. They say the stone column's are still there, covered in heavy over grown brush and trees.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Rambler » Nov Sat 16, 2019 9:49 am

Busse Jim wrote:Here is an old pict of the original entrance. They say the stone column's are still there, covered in heavy over grown brush and trees.

Glad you liked the post. Yes, those stone columns are still there.

I caught a bass there years ago by the bridge. Don't remember what lure. That lake gets so weedy it make retrieves too much of a pain.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby HEDDONFROG » Nov Mon 18, 2019 2:41 am

Great winter Rambling. I hate dealing with winter during the work week but see the beauty and solitude of winter while recreating on days off. When I/we were growing up , we always spent our winter weekends at the Mississippi Palisades & Wild Cat Den state parks (climbing & hiking) or the Maquoketa Caves (hiking & getting stoned in the caves). One thing I do not recommend is getting high and doing magic mushrooms in the winter prior to climbing cliffs. Summers it’s fine :D
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Rambler » Nov Mon 18, 2019 1:56 pm

HEDDONFROG wrote:One thing I do not recommend is getting high and doing magic mushrooms in the winter prior to climbing cliffs. Summers it’s fine

Dave: Thanks for the advice. Not much chance of me doing any climbing at my age & state of disrepair. And haven't touched anything like shrooms in nearly 50 years - winter or summer. But now that you mention it... :lol:
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby badger75 » Nov Sun 24, 2019 12:47 pm

A great ramble by Rambler. Liked the info on the hornet's nest. Will look for that when out.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby jmdog2003 » Nov Sun 24, 2019 3:43 pm

This is easily my favorite time of year to hike. So much wildlife is viewable that is otherwise hidden by brush and tall grass in the spring/summer, or hunkered down in the winter. It's an added benefit to wetting a line this time of year.
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Skifish1 » Nov Sun 24, 2019 8:40 pm

The pond that eventually filled in with cattails along Quentin road was a good bass lake. I use to hip wade it as a kid. The interior lake was a decent bass lake years ago also but probably doesn't support bass anymore. I use to cross country ski the crap out of that place as well as used the regular dirt trails and deer trails on my mountain bike. Good gem of a cook county park since its so hilly it rolls and is never flat and one of the best October fall color places around to walk. Deer Grove and large expanse around Palos the best cook parks
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Re: Early Winter Ramble

Postby Rambler » Nov Tue 26, 2019 5:42 pm

jmdog2003 wrote:This is easily my favorite time of year to hike. So much wildlife is viewable that is otherwise hidden by brush and tall grass in the spring/summer, or hunkered down in the winter. It's an added benefit to wetting a line this time of year.


Indeed. Great for wildlife viewing. During my daily woodland stroll Halloween morning I watched a pair of coyotes playing around in the snow on an open field. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera.

Skifish1 wrote:I use to cross country ski the crap out of that place as well as used the regular dirt trails and deer trails on my mountain bike. Good gem of a cook county park since its so hilly it rolls and is never flat and one of the best October fall color places around to walk. Deer Grove and large expanse around Palos the best cook parks


All true. Back in the 70s when we used to get some decent snow around here I X-C "skiied the shit" out of Deer Grove too. In fact, one time I put my son in a backpack and took him skiing there. Then I realized that if I fell it might not be so good for him so I never did that again. He turned out OK so no harm done that I know of. :D
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